Cockney slang words can be tricky to get the hang of. Sure, it’s technically English, but it can sound like a different language. Wandering around London listening to some of the lingo can be confusing, especially if English isn’t your native language.
Cockney slang is so much more than just an accent. It’s the replacement of a normal word with one that rhymes and often has a special meaning, and dates back from around 1840 when locals wanted to speak without outsiders understanding.
Sometimes the word doesn’t even rhyme, making it extra tricky! Other words come from fictional characters, such as Donald Duck (which in Cockney slang means “luck”).
Do you know your ‘apples and pears’ apart from your ‘bees and honey’? Here’s a list of 10 commonly used slang words in the East End. You’ll be speaking like a local in no time.
10 Common Cockney Slang Words
1. “Apples and pears” = Stairs
This phrase comes from the idea that fruit at market stalls is arranged in steps.
2. “Bees and Honey” = Money
Honeys comes from hard work, as does money!
3. “Box of Toys” = Noise
This is self-explanatory. Who hasn’t been woken up by noisy children’s toys?
4. “Dustbin Lid/s” – Kid/s
Kids are super messy, so this phrase is said when children have made a huge mess.
5. “Lump of Ice” = Advice
Good advice can sometimes be a shock to the system…
6. “On the Floor” = Poor
Used from times of down-on-their-luck housewives looking for cleaning work.
7. “Pleasure and Pain” = Rain
A pleasure for gardeners and farmers, but pain for anyone suffering from rheumatism.
8. “Porky Pies” = Lies
This term comes from the humble British pork pie.
9. “Scotch Mist” = Pissed
This reference to getting drunk off Scotch whiskey is pretty easy to understand!
10. “Satin and Silk” = Milk